Friday, March 18, 2011

Teaching Writing with Blogs!

If you've ever tried to teach young people to write, you know it can sometimes be a bit of a slog :)  There are lots of "reluctant" young writers out there who would happily opt to clean the family toilets if they thought it might get them out of their writing assignments.  ....Wow, that's not at all the way I imagined starting this post!  Did I mention that I have a horrible cold today -- sore throat, stuffy nose, the works?  I think I'm going to blame my bluntness here on that -- it's the fever talking... no, really!

Anyway, like most writing teachers, I'm constantly trying to come up with ways to make the writing process more engaging and enjoyable for my students and this semester I'm teaching an argumentative writing class to home schooled teens and I'm using blogs to help increase their awareness of audience and encourage them to really engage with the issues we're analyzing.  (Click here to see Syllabus.)

We began the semester by taking a good long look at the task we were about to embark upon:  Writing.  I asked students to write a post in which they considered not only why writing is essential for students, but how the internet has changed the way we write.  To give you an idea of their responses, here are a few of their posts (not all students wanted their blogs circulated :)

http://the-occasional-post.blogspot.com/2011/02/writing.html
http://sparksbranches.blogspot.com/2011/02/how-would-you-put-it.html
http://pinkribboneyes.blogspot.com/2011/02/importance-of-being-excellent-in.html
http://partialtopink.blogspot.com/2011/02/how-writing-changes-us.html
http://freshcanvas37.blogspot.com/2011/02/writing-why-is-it-important.html
http://themodernprogressives.blogspot.com/2011/02/writing-in-modern-age.html

We next moved onto book reviews:

http://pinkribboneyes.blogspot.com/2011/03/book-review-gone-with-wind.html
http://sparksbranches.blogspot.com/2011/03/s-t-r-g-i-r-l.html
http://fiddleenigma.blogspot.com/2011/03/well-here-we-go.html
http://the-occasional-post.blogspot.com/2011/03/two-book-reviews-and-some-rambling.html
http://freshcanvas37.blogspot.com/2011/03/harry-potter-series-review.html
http://partialtopink.blogspot.com/2011/03/book-review-pretty-little-liars.html
http://themodernprogressives.blogspot.com/2011/03/book-review-on-fellowship-of-ring.html

Then, because this is a class for older students and we're incorporating a good bit of classical rhetoric, we explored the Greek rhetorical appeals (pathos, ethos, logos) along with basic identification appeals (stereotype/image) by analyzing some advertisements:

http://fiddleenigma.blogspot.com/2011/03/commercial-rant.html
http://the-occasional-post.blogspot.com/2011/03/we-interrupt-this-blog.html
http://pinkribboneyes.blogspot.com/2011/03/but-thats-not-all-folks.html
http://sparksbranches.blogspot.com/2011/03/kid-in-candy-store.html
http://partialtopink.blogspot.com/2011/03/analyze-advertisement.html
http://freshcanvas37.blogspot.com/2011/03/v-behaviorurldefaultvmlo.html
http://themodernprogressives.blogspot.com/2011/03/drive-people-crazy.html

This week we've moved on to propaganda.  We're doing a two part assignment:  This week we get to play.  Everyone is writing a tongue-in-cheek propaganda piece using the techniques we discussed in class.  Next week, as we learn about logical fallacies, they'll look at issues more seriously and consider what sort of training young students should receive to arm them with the tools they'll need to recognize propaganda when they subjected to it.  As their humorous pieces get posted over the next day or so, I'll add them here:

http://pinkribboneyes.blogspot.com/2011/03/prince-charming-dream-or-nightmare.html
http://freshcanvas37.blogspot.com/2011/03/tooth-fairy-problem.html
http://partialtopink.blogspot.com/2011/03/willy-wonka-friend-or-foe.html
http://the-occasional-post.blogspot.com/2011/03/global-warming-is-good-for-you.html
http://fiddleenigma.blogspot.com/2011/03/bout-of-nonsense.html
http://sparksbranches.blogspot.com/2011/03/goldilocks-and-three-little-what.html


If you visit these posts, be sure to look through the comments.  Part of their assignment is always to comment on each other's posts and I place my comments there as well.  And feel free to comment on these student blogs yourself... though I beg you, be kind to my young writers :)  They're working very hard and I'm so impressed with what they've already accomplished in just these 1st few weeks!

4 comments:

  1. What a great idea. Most kids love writing about themselves.

    Kathi,
    Welcoming New Homeschoolers. Come Join The Party!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I hope you will keep sharing more articles.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you, Mark! I will -- and I have a few more recent articles on my blog at wwwTheWritingTutor.com.

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